Improvements in infrastructure is one way to measure the efforts put forth by our tax dollars and government at work. The latest update to our roads is designed to improve road safety and traffic flow. I am talking about the coming change in our left turn signal arrows. The ever familiar green flashing arrows and solid green lights signed with “Left Turn Yield on Green” will begin to fade away with a better signal option. Arlington County has just announced new signals are set to be installed with flashing yellow arrows instead. This new approach has been growing in popularity across the country, and has finally come to Virginia. Studies have shown that a flashing yellow left turn arrow is easier to understand for drivers at intersections where they can turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic.

The new signals will cycle through a green arrow to indicate a left turn can be made, to a flashing yellow arrow to signify that a left turn can be made after yielding to traffic, followed by a steady yellow, then a red light to end the turn. There will be new signs stating “Left Turn Yield on Flashing Yellow Arrow” as well. Using flashing yellow arrows in yield situations is now recommended by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program as they report a reduction in traffic accidents significant enough to warrant the change. There is also more flexibility to adjust these signals as traffic changes.

The first round of new flashing yellow arrow signals will be along areas of Arlington Blvd, Glebe Rd, and Lee Highway, with more additions expected to follow in the coming months. The cost of these new signals is reported at $60,000, a cost worth the results of safer roads and better flowing traffic to be sure. VDOT is currently also installing these new signals in Southern Virginia, soon I believe we will be seeing more and more of these flashing yellow arrows. 

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